Thursday, May 31, 2007

Alanon

As part of my "healing treatment" I've been told to attend Alanon meetings. Alanon meetings are for the families and friends of alcoholics. This was hard at first, mostly because I don't know any alcoholics (although there are a few distant relatives who are). What could I gain out of a meeting where I didn't share the most common characteristic?

Well, I was very mistaken. The words of wisdom spoken there can apply to anyone who's suffered or feels like sin has taken over their life. The meeting is for those who've spent years trying to help other people find healing, never realizing how deep their need for healing was.

In the meeting this week the topic was gratitude. They talked about how they made it a point of doing their gratitude list every night and when they didn't how their lives seemed much darker. They talked about how, even when things are at their worst, there is always something to be grateful for. There are even times when you are grateful for the worst.

Then, they talked about the connection between gratitude and letting go. At the time I just wrote it down, mostly because I didn't understand how, but then it hit me later at adoration. It is what Pinckaers was talking about. You are only grateful for a gift, you are not grateful for things not given, for things you earned. If you've accomplished some great goal, all by yourself, who do you have to thank but yourself? Gratitude happens when we realize that it was a gift, it needn't have been given.

When we start telling God thank you for the little things in our lives, we begin to see bigger things he has given us. By acknowledging his gifts we open our hearts and are able to truly appreciate them. Gratitude becomes the means by which we accept his gifts and the fruit of that acceptance.

As an example, I have been blessed with great artistic talent, but for a long time I wouldn't accept it as a gift and refused to use it. I was upset that I didn't have more talent; it wasn't enough. Then the Lord took that talent away by means of a pinched nerve that caused my hand to fall asleep when I held the pencil too long. When I could no longer draw I realized that there was no reason I should have any talent to begin with. When I was able to draw, even the most simple of pictures, it was a great joy and a gift. I learned to thank the Lord for that gift and I am now free to offer it back to him. Where before I would refuse to use the talent because I wanted perfection, I've now learned to let go of my desire for perfection and am free to use it as he wills.

Here are some other words of wisdom from yesterday's meeting:

  • For a more complete Gratitude List, go through the alphabet and list one item for each letter: I'm grateful for Alanon, Butterflies, Colors, Dandelions, The Eucharist, etc...
  • Let go and let God...do HIS job. It's not your job to fix the world ;-)
  • When we stop pleasing people, people are not pleased, but that's OK :)

Comments

I have decided to remove comments from my blog. I realized, as I eagerly looked over to see if anyone had commented, that I was just waiting for someone to say "good job". I wanted someone else to note how wonderful my blog is and that just leads to vanity.

I am not sure it isn't vanity to keep posting, but at least without the comments it's more like a journal. Actually, since I'm going to keep things general from now on, it will be more like a series of meditations that anyone can benefit from.

I hope, with the Lord's grace, that someone will benefit from this blog, but I also hope I never learn about it. I'm having enough trouble with my pride as it is ;)

Lord, bless this blog, may it be an instrument of healing for myself and, if it is your will, for others as well. Amen.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Blessed are the poor...

I've been told to read Pinckaers, Living the Beatitudes. I'm now on chapter 3, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. On page 44 he talks about poverty and love, up until this point I understood, but this gave me cause to stop and reflect...

There is no true love without poverty...Love knows it's own worth and is rightly jealous. It wants to possess our hearts totally, and cannot endure anything else besides, or any comparison. We must therefore become poor and empty, if love would enter and abide with us...Poverty is love's handmaid and companion. It makes us free, supple, and flexible beneath the action of the Holy Spirit, who is the Master of true love.

Furthermore, poverty purifies our love from that instinct of possessiveness which is its most dangerous enemy. Without the help of poverty love becomes possessive and, desiring to monopolize its object, it abases and defiles it until it flees from the lover. In the end, possessive love corrupts and destroys itself.

Perhaps I was just being dense, but for some reason this seemed contradictory. He first speaks of love possessive as a good thing, something natural, then speaks of possessive love as a bad thing, something which "corrupts and destroys itself." How is love possessive good and possessive love bad?

Well I spent three days thinking about this and I still don't understand love possessive, but I think I've begun to understand possessive love. The closest I can come to love possessive is that when we love an object it becomes the focus of our attention. Should our hearts be taken with other objects of affection, we no longer love the primary, or loose it. None of this sounds right though.

Possessive love is a bit easier. Being human, the lover fears the beloved, or rejection by the beloved and tries to protect himself by possessing the beloved instead of loving the beloved.

Pinckaers describes poverty as that "fundamental emptiness which lies at the depths of our being: the consciousness of our condition as creatures...All that we have and are comes from another, and will be taken away from us some day, whether we wish it or not." So a lack of poverty is the lack of acknowledgment that we are helpless, or the belief that we are gods.

Relating this back to our possessive lover, it is difficult for someone who believes himself to be self-sufficient to love for he has no need, or desire for anyone outside of himself. Should he find in himself poverty enough to desire a beloved, it would be for selfish reasons. He would need the beloved to validate the control he has illusioned himself to have.

Since he sees the beloved as a tool to validate his own illusions, he never realizes the depth of the gift given to him by the beloved. The lover, lacking poverty, does not acknowledge control outside of himself and will attempt to force the beloved to truly love. Yet love cannot be manipulated or controlled, it must be freely given. Deep down he knows this and thus will see any affection given as coerced and superficial.

As this cycle continues he will begin to despise the beloved because she represents his failure. His lack of control, which he fears and rejects, is evident in his beloved and thus he seeks to destroy the evidence of that failure. He will begin to attack her in order to regain a semblance of control, if he cannot have the love, he will have power.

In order for the lover to experience true love he must first recognize that he is poor, that everything he has is a gift that can be taken away. Once he accepts his lack of control even the most insignificant goods become precious. Superficial love is a joy and true love a divine blessing, for neither need have been given at all. Furthermore, since all gifts depend upon our acceptance of the gift, or our rejection of it, the lover will cherish the love given by the beloved all the more, knowing that, should he choose to reject it, it may never be offered again.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Humility Prayer

Oh Jesus, meek and humble of heart, hear me.
- From the desire of being esteemed...Deliver me Jesus
- From the desire of being loved...
- From the desire of being extolled...
- From the desire of being honored...
- From the desire of being praised...
- From the desire of being preferred to others...
- From the desire of being consulted...
- From the desire of being approved...
- From the desire of being humiliated...
- From the fear of being despised...
- From the fear of suffering rebukes...
- From the fear of being calumniated...
- From the fear of being forgotten...
- From the fear of being ridiculed...
- From the fear of being wronged...
- From the fear of being suspected...
- That others may be loved more than I...Jesus grant me the grace to desire it
- That others may be esteemed more than I...
- That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease...
- That others may be chosen and I set aside...
- That others may be praised and I unnoticed...
- That others may be preferred to me in everything...
- That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should...
Dear Lord Jesus, teach me humility

This is a hard prayer. I've been saying it for three weeks now and the Lord has been showing me my pride left and right. It's gotten to the point where every moment I hear a voice saying "that's pride there...and there...and there. Oh, you think you're doing sooo well at pointing out pride! Guess what that is..."

As I was posting this I began to wonder if keeping a blog was a form of pride...of course it is. I think my thoughts are so great that someone might want to read them. Then I thought, no one reads my blog anymore! If anything this is an exercise in humility!

Well, I'll keep posting, perhaps in the future the Lord might guide someone to the site and work through me without my knowledge to help them. :) Not pride right? Of course not ;)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Suffering and Healing

A year ago I left my apartment and town I love to move back to my parent's house. It was mostly to continue my discernment process, but I also wanted to help out with a crisis there. Well now, a year later, I'm back in the town I left. I came down for a visit and the Lord arranged things so that I had to stay another week...then another...and now I live here again. It's strange being back, but a relief and a blessing.

The situation at my parent's house was tough. They are being persecuted and abused by a legal system that is out for blood. I kept thinking how I needed to help them, I needed to save them, I didn't realize the damage that I was doing to myself. I wasn't doing the Lord's will at my parent's house anymore, and I was starting to spiral out of control.

So now I'm seeking healing, for that is what I've been told I need to do. The more I live here the more I see it too. I don't know down what path the Lord is leading me, but I'm learning to trust that Love and Peace is the destination.

I figure a new phase deserves a new color scheme and layout. The header picture is a crop of a larger digital images from www.moodflow.com. Since it's someone else's artwork, I feel it's proper to site it ;)